“Non saper rimediare ad una sconfitta è peggiore della sconfitta stessa.” These words were publicly written on a banner in the Roma’s Ultras’ favourite Curva Sud during the club’s Opening Day earlier this season. It translates to “Not knowing how to respond to a defeat is worse than the defeat itself”. The banner clearly sent the message to the American owners of the club that they had to redeem themselves. In addition, the sale of Erik Lamela, Pablo Osvaldo and Marquinhos only made the relationship worse between the fans and the club. Following two bad seasons Roma’s owners claimed that they were ready to redeem their image, that their project is still there and they are working on improving the Roma brand.
The management had been doing well off the pitch previously, signing contracts with new sponsors, new kit providers (Nike), putting plans to build a new stadium, agreements with Disney, Philip Plein and various companies that could improve the image of Roma. Nevertheless, they were running the club as a business and failed to improve anything on the pitch. Last summer was a chance for the owners to show what they are capable of doing and in fact they did, they appointed the right man, Rudi Garcia, not the best coach in the world but one of the best available and he doesn’t only possess top flight experience, sanity and pragmatism but he also has the ability to control his temper with the media and players, some traits that his three predecessors seemed to lack.
Rudi wasn’t their first choice, Max Allegri, back then Milan’s head coach and Walter Mazzarri who opted to join Inter were ahead of Garcia and the Frenchman was clearly aware of that but maybe sometimes things happen for a reason and it seems that Roma’s third option was in fact more of a benefit for them than their first two. The fans are now fully behind their coach, the club has not only qualified for the Champions League next season but they have also outplayed themselves. Only twice in the history of the club have Roma won 24 games in a single season and it seems, they need one more to reach 25 which means this is perhaps the best Roma side ever, they have broken most of their own records, from their winning start to their season to the clean sheets and the few goals they conceded, the fans should be more than proud of having such a squad at their disposal, it’s just that Juventus are way too good, any other season this Roma would win the scudetto with minimal challenge.
Rudi continued to rely on Francesco Totti, Roma’s best player but he also showed that the club can play in his absence and he was relegated to the bench on a few occasions, Gervinho, Alessandro Florenzi and Mattia Destro stepped up their game up front to become clinical and vital to their team. Gervinho has rediscovered himself under the same coach that launched him before his transfer to the Premier League, he has scored eight goals and assisted ten this season and he will only do better next season, Destro has scored 13 goals despite starting only 12 games! Though this is not Roma’s best department, last weekend Roma played without Mehdi Benatia, Vassilis Torosidis, Federico Balzaretti and Alessio Romagnoli in defense, all four who played were Brazilians: Maicon, Dodo, Leandro Castan and Rafael Toloi and they showed very great understanding between each other despite conceding a goal.
The Giallorossi aren’t simply winning games and playing good, they finally have their own unique playing style, something the American owners aspired to achive from day one, but it was only until now that they realizes Roma is not Barcelona, they don’t need to play perfect football but rather a style that fits to their character, a passionate one, a direct one yet beautiful and splendid just like the city and its people. All is great until now, it’s been a wonderful season for them but there’s more waiting for them next year.
This squad is not enough for them to compete in the Champions League, they have a handful of players in their late years: Morgan De Sanctis, Maicon, Totti, Rodrigo Taddei and Balzaretti. If they are to play twice a week, they will definitely need to have depth at their disposal. Not only depth but they also need to keep stars like Kevin Strootman, Miralem Pjanic and Mehdi Benatia at the club.
Will Roma be among the best in the Champions League next season? Share your views with us in the comments below